2018 marks the Year of Engineering, a government campaign celebrating the world and wonder of engineering. In keeping with this amazing campaign, we chose Andy Macfarlane as our latest Very Important Professional. Andy is a Director at Curtins, an award-winning, leading consultancy having specialised in the built environment for almost 60 years.
Andy spoke to us about his role, his plans for 2018 and his passion for engineering and how it has defined our country.
How would you describe your role?
Dynamic and exciting! My role includes strategic development, work winning and project delivery. Every day is different.
What are your plans for 2018?
I have just relocated back to Liverpool after five years leading the Curtins Birmingham office, it’s good to be back in Liverpool at an exciting time for Curtins and for the City. We relocated to our fantastic new city centre office on Tithebarn Street late last year, it is great opportunity to embrace new ways of working and drive the Liverpool office forward. In my personal life I am looking forward to being nearer to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lake District for some walking, plus a few trips to Anfield.
What are the challenges you face in your role?
Great engineering has defined our country, from the docks and canals to the railways and roads, we have lead the world. It often feels that long term investment infrastructure is no longer prioritised and construction as a career choice is not promoted as well as it could be. This creates a skills shortage which impacts on the productivity of our industry. I do feel there’s a great opportunity at present, digital infrastructure is changing our world at a rapid pace, and I strongly feel that digital skills are key to revolutionising construction, and a great vehicle for attracting new talent to our profession.
How does the industry continue to inspire you?
It is easy to underestimate the effect engineering has on our lives. Consider Jesse Hartley, his work on the Liverpool docks opened Liverpool up to the world, laying the foundations for the architecture, culture, sport and musical heritage that makes Liverpool a global city. It is a great feeling being able to walk around the city and see the projects we have contributed to and how they improve people’s lives.
Why did you become an engineer?
I grew up in a small town in North Wales and always remember the excitement of visiting Liverpool and Chester and looking at the amazing architecture. I was always quite good at applied maths so civil and structural engineering was always the dream.
Tell us about the greatest achievement in your career to date
When I moved to Birmingham five years ago I had been given a great opportunity to run an office at only 33 years old. Five years later we had grown the office from 10 to nearly 40 staff and had been involved in many of the city’s most iconic projects.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never be afraid to get involved, share your ideas and take any opportunities offered. Construction, like all professions, relies on good communication and team work. Invest in yourself, particularly in presenting skills. Being able to effectively communicate your ideas with an audience is one of the most valuable skills you can learn.
Keep an eye on our blog page to find out who will be February's Very Important Professional.